Looking Forward



Premier League

Saturday 22nd December 2001

After their surge up the League last year, the newly promoted team have crashed back down to earth this time around, finding themselves bottom of the Premier League.  George Burley's side have been hit by injuries, lack of form and some signings just not hitting it off as he had hoped.  

The biggest loss might have been Richard Wright in goal, but the purchase of Andy Marshall from Norwich City didn't make the opening game and Matteo Serini came in from Sampdoria to take over the gloves.  He has proved to be a sturdy keeper, making some heroic performances, but mainly, he has been exposed by the leaky defence in front of him.

This features the player they were all raving about last season - Titus Bramble.  Unfortunately, like many before him, too much praise was heaped on him before it was duly earned and he has had difficulty living up to his reputation.  He is a big, strong central defender, who looks like he can bring the ball away from his own goal, but the defensive naivety he has exhibited means that his primary function is not totally being fulfilled.  Former Sunderland man Chris Makin has been preferred in defence to Fabian Wilnis.  Makin's rugged approach contrasts with the more attacking minded Dutchman's.  On the other flank, lanky Icelander Hermann Hreidarsson has been chosen in favour of former Spur Jamie Clapham.  The ex-Wimbledon and Brentford defender has height and good awareness on the ball, but Clapham offers an overlapping full back option and also a good ability to cross the ball.  John McGreal and Mark Venus are the central pairing that Burley has selected for experience.  They have both been around for quite a while and what they lack in pace, they try and make up by their ability to read the game in advance.  Spurs could use this area to exploit their deficiencies, especially should Les not make the game and Rebrov plays through the centre.

The main man in Ipswich's midfield is Matt Holland.  He is the inspiration and driving force there, providing much of what is good coming out of the engine room.  The Irish international has built a good reputation for dynamic play, but has had to carry much of the load on his shoulders alone this season, making his efforts less effective.  Alongside, Jim Magilton is capable of producing a killer pass or a spectacular goal, but all too rarely.  That is why Jermaine Wright has been brought in to try and add some youthful verve to the midfield.  His grounding at Crewe Alexandra means that he is good on the ball and is aware of his defensive responsibilities, but he has yet to fully be assimilated to a Premiership player.  

Martin Reuser has been missed since his injury, as he has a powerful shot and can be a potent weapon from free-kicks, while not much has been seen so far of Hartlepool United's Tommy Miller (signed in the summer) or Ulrich Le Pen, brought in from Lorient, but injured in his first game.  One who has impressed when he has played is Sixto Peralta, the Argentinian former Inter Milan midfielder.  He has a determined attitude and has shown a fair amount of skill too.  He was persuaded to come to England by Taricco, so hopefully, Treacle will know how he plays and will have let his colleagues know of his weaknesses too.

Finidi George was bought to add some class to the Blues side.  He has showed some touches of it, but not enough on a consistent basis to justify his star billing.  Richard Naylor is a more typical English player, who can score important goals on occasion.  Bustling and strong, he should not provide anything out of the ordinary for our defenders to be worried about and hopefully, if he does play, will be marked by Deano.

Pablo Counago (thigh) and Le Pen (foot) are out until 29th December and striker Marcus Stewart is out until the New Year with a broken jaw.  They will be light up front, especially as Alun Armstrong is doubtful for this match too with a long term back injury.  Striking options are thus limited and Marcus Bent, who came in from Blackburn Rovers and Darren Bent, a young prospect from their youth set-up could be paired in attack.  Both are rangy, pacy forwards, but perhaps lack the lethal instinct to finish off chances that are created for them.

The main thrust of the Ipswich side comes from their midfield and the way Tottenham have been passing the ball around, they could be in for a chasing.  Spurs have showed they they are willing to win the midfield battle and Ipswich are desperate for points, so will try and frustrate the middle men and break down our moves.  They are light up front, but the Tottenham defence should be aware that they will need to concentrate for the full 90 minutes.  In the end though, Tottenham's patience should pay off and they will show their better side to defeat one of the sides who they might have lost to in the past ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham  3  Ipswich Town  1

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.



Tottenham  1   Ipswich Town  2                               (Half time score: 1-1)
Saturday 22nd December 2001
Kick Off : 3.00 p.m.
Weather : -  Very cold, bright.
Crowd : -   36,040
Referee : -  Mr. M. Riley  (Leeds)

Scorers : -  Tottenham   -   Davies 11
                  Ipswich Town  -  George 40, Armstrong 88


Spurs :  Sheringham (violent conduct) 54, Anderton (foul) 58

Ipswich Town :   Reuser (dissent) 12, McGreal (unsporting conduct) 53 


Spurs :  Sullivan; Perry (Gardner 45), King,  Richards; Taricco, Davies (Poyet 75), Freund, Anderton, Ziege; Sheringham, Rebrov (Ferdinand 67)
Unused Subs : -  Keller, Sherwood

Ipswich Town : Sereni; Makin, McGreal (Bramble 83), Hreidarsson, Venus; Magilton (Armstrong 71), Holland, Wright, Reuser; George, Bent (Naylor 76)
Unused Subs : -  Branagh, Clapham

Managers : -  Tottenham   -   Glenn Hoddle
                        Ipswich Town  -  George Burley

The unique performance by the referee set the tone for this match and laid Tottenham's chances of moving up the league to waste.  His one-sided view of the proceedings made the whole afternoon a cold, miserable experience and what was not a dirty game, ending up with one player dismissed and three booked.  It was another game like Everton, where the man in black cost us points.

The afternoon started out very strangely.  The crowd were very quiet from the off and in very cold conditions, it was not the ideal start for Spurs.  Holland had a free far post header go wide and Magilton rifled over the top, as Ipswich moved the ball about well.  Against the run of play, Spurs scored.  Rebrov got away down the right and crossed low into the box, where Simon Davies lost his marker and shinned the ball past Sereni.  Even Steffen Freund nearly got in on the act with a shot that was saved at the near post by the Ipswich keeper.  Ipswich had tons of possession, but they left the final pass too late on too many occasions or over-hit it to evade their forwards' runs.  McGreal also had a free header from a corner, but he put it wide.

Their pressure saw a procession of corners and a few half chances, one of which was headed on by McGreal, hit Finidi George on the chest and he acrobatically struck an overhead from close range past Sullivan.  But Spurs struck back straight away with Ziege hitting a low drive that rebounded off the post and Anderton's attempt to convert the rebound was blocked by a defender.

At the break, Anthony Gardner came on for Chris Perry and things were going fine, until a corner for Spurs was about to be taken and Mr. Riley used his whistle to it's fullest extent like an Italian traffic cop.  He pulled McGreal and Sheringham out of the area, showed the Ipswich centre-half a yellow card and then stunned all and sundry by waving a red at Teddy.  He seemed to indicate that it was for striking the opponent, but the general consensus was that it had been nothing more than an attempt to shrug off a player who was holding him.  It is interesting to note that had the same offence taken place when the ball was in flight, the same outcome might have prevailed, but the ref would have had to have given a penalty as the first offence was McGreal's.  Not that he would have given it if the corner had been taken though.  

The dismissal changed the way the game gone.  Tottenham took the game to the Blues and they were forced onto the back foot.  Goals should have come from Christian Ziege (who hit Rebrov's low cross against the bar from two yards out), Richards, who missed a chance in the six yard box and then he managed to get the ball up onto the bar from close in too.  Taricco had a shot deflected wide of the post, Ferdinand drove a shot at Sereni, who also denied Gardner when put through into the box.  It was all Tottenham, until the 88th minute, when a cross from the right wing was headed past Sully by substitute Armstrong.  This was cruel on Spurs, who had the better of the second half and restricted Ipswich to only the one scoring chance, which, to their credit, they took.

King's header faded past the post and with it went Tottenham's chances of anything out of the game.  With Sheringham on the pitch, there was always the opportunity to create something; without him, the team made things happen for themselves.  Without having played that well, they almost took a point from the game and maybe should have had more.

Unfortunately, the referee made any recompense impossible.  If he reviews his decision on video and rescinds the dismissal, then at least we won't lose Sheringham for more matches.  If not (as is usually the case), then more damage than the loss of points here will be done.


Pete Stachio




Have you ever had a wasted afternoon where you would have been better off doing something else ?  That's what happened to Mike Riley yesterday afternoon.  Ever since the semi-final at Elland Road in 1995, he has had it in for Tottenham.  I have seen enough referees to know that when they are having a stinker, they are equally bad for each side, but it must have been about 66 minutes before he gave Spurs a decision and his assistant refs just looked to him for guidance about how to wave their flags.  Professional referees - talk about easy money.  

Wearing black armbands as a mark of respect for the recently deceased Gerald Ashby, the officials paid little respect for the departed ref and his memory with a show of incompetence that astounded me.

The whole game hinged on the dismissal of Sheringham, as it gave Spurs the impetus to go forward in an attempt to win the game.  Well, that and missing some gilt-edged chances to take the points.  Up until that time, Tottenham's passing game had been off and they constantly ceded possession to Ipswich, who passed well and sharply.  Hoddle seemed to get things a bit wrong to start off with, as Poyet was replaced by Ziege, with Davies pushing into midfield, while Sergei took Les' place in the side.  When Spurs did score, there was much protest from the Ipswich players for offside against Davies, but it was just another perfectly timed run to meet Rebrov's low cross into the six yard box area.  Sergei received the ball from Davies in the first place and twisted and turned out on the right wing to get his ball in.  Despite not getting a regular start nor scoring as freely as he was previously used to, he is contributing to the team.  However, that contribution is limited when, as we did in the first half, we knock long balls up to him to win in the air against 6' centre-halves !!

At 1-1 at the break, the Horses were well worth their equaliser, which was a bit scrappy as far as I was concerned.  The second half turned on the now ludicrous sending off of Teddy Sheringham.  Having seen the TV pictures, he didn't punch, just tried to push and as McGreal moved his hand went up near his face.  Whereas the above correspondent said the corner had been taken, the footage on "The Premiership" showed the ball had been kicked by Anderton, so perhaps we should have had a pen.  What we didn't have was a self-pitying attitude and got on with battering the Ipswich goal.  The frame was struck twice by Richards and Ziege, when it was easier for both of them to score.  Spurs threw defenders forward and both Richards and Gardner had opportunities to put Spurs ahead, as we at last played the ball more on the floor.  Ipswich were penned in and the only time they got away, they scored.  A cross into the box was headed out by Gardner to George.  He knocked it back in and Armstrong dived in to beat Sullivan to the ball.  I feel that the keeper didn't need to come for it, even though no defender had gone with the Ipswich sub.  If Neil had stayed on his line he might have caught it easily.  Easy to say, more difficult to make that judgement in a split second though.

So, we came out of the game with nothing.  Tottenham on a good run and Ipswich bottom of the league.  A typical Tottenham result in many ways, especially the old Tottenham, but this was different.  For the second week running we were punished by the referee, when the Spurs player had been offended against.  Last week Les got booked for elbowing Legwinski after being cracked on the noggin with the pointed part of the Frenchman's arm.  This week we have Teddy sent of for trying to free himself from the grasp of McGreal, who suddenly attains the role of innocent party in it all.  Shame the ref didn't spot the liberal use of the elbow by Hreidarsson on Simon Davies head or the way McGreal climbed all over Les once he came on, especially in the box.

I've no real problem with Ipswich.  They came, they played and didn't look like a side in 20th place.  The fact that they took their chances and we didn't, allied with the reffing awful performance left us facing a Christmas with no win under our belts.  I hope the side don't eat too much, so that there is room for a win under the belts on Boxing Day !!

Benny The Ball

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